A Guide to Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Mount Kinabalu stands at an impressive 4,095 Metres (13,435 ft) and is South East Asia’s highest peak. Situated on Borneo’s Crocker mountain range in Sabah, Malaysia, its summit at Low’s Peak is easily climbable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. In 2015, a massive earthquake damaged some of the more photographed and cherished paths of the mountain, 18 people were killed and the mountain was closed to climbers. The mountain is open once again and 130 climbing permits are granted every day. If you are keen to climb this amazing mountain be sure to book early, as demand is as high as ever.

The climb itself takes 2 days, and it’s best to book through an agency or tour company. They will provide you with the climbing pass, sort out accommodation and any tour guides that you need. Most will pick you up from your hotel in downtown Kota Kinabalu as the national park the mountain is situated is at least 1 hour drive from the town centre. On Day one, you will be picked up from your hotel in the morning and driven to the mountain, you will begin your climb around 10am. This is a nice day time climb all the way up to around 2/3 of the height of the mountain. You will reach this height from around 3pm onwards depending on your speed, there is no rush, take your time and enjoy the sights. You will see the climbers from the previous day as they make their way down the mountain and it gives you a nice comradery feeling. The weather is still humid for this part so a nice t-shirt, shorts and walking shoes are ideal.

Once you reach the 2/3 level you will rest at one of the bunk houses. Here you can have an evening meal and bed in for the night before tackling the summit in the early hours. Depending on your speed, your guide will give you a time to start the ascent. Usually you will start anytime from 2am to 3am so you can make the summit for sunrise. Bed down early for the night as there isn’t much to do in the bunk house and you need all your strength for the following day, you will be in a bunk probably sharing with 2 or 3 other people so don’t expect the most luxurious of conditions.

The ascent will be cold and temperatures at the summit will be close to freezing. You need to wrap up warm, fleece jackets, scarves, hats, gloves are all essential as is a head torch as some of the paths can be difficult to see. Just follow your guide and the countless others as you go in one long line to Low’s peak. You should reach the top by around 6am and then you can enjoy your accomplishment and the amazing scenery of Borneo all around you. Once you are finished there you can head back down to your bunk house and grab some breakfast before checking out. You will probably arrive back at the bunk house between 8 and 9am. There you can change back into your daytime clothes and start making your way back down the mountain.

Going down the mountain is often the hardest on the legs as the constant downward pressure of your weight being put on one foot to another will start taking its toll. For the next few days you will be very stiff and it’s important you stretch your muscles as much as possible until you feel like you’re back to normal. Going down is similar to the previous day of going up, you will see those ascending that day and you can enjoy the scenery on the way down, knowing you have just climbed one of the highest peaks in the world with a proud sense of achievement. You will arrive at the bottom where you started the previous morning around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and your bus should be waiting for you to take you back into the town. You will undoubtedly sleep well that night and don’t forget to look up and see the mountain in the distance where you can proudly say, I climbed that!

Book your hotel in Kota Kinabalu now and enjoy this amazing region.

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Climbing Mount Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia,
A 2-Day climb up South East Asia's highest peak in Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo.